The Class of 2022 was treated to the traditional Alumni Senior Breakfast in the Terrace Room at the New York Botanical Garden, hosted by various Prep alumni.
On the morning of April 26th, over 200 Fordham Prep seniors gathered for the traditional Alumni Senior Breakfast in the New York Botanical Garden’s Terrace Room.
The event was attended by nearly 30 alumni, including former Principal Robert Gomprect ‘65, former member of the Board of Trustees Maurice Hyacinthe, Esq. ‘77, Thomas Gaffney ‘04 (New York Times), Sean Gregory ‘94 (TIME), and others. Attorney William Wagstaff, III, Esq. ‘99, Principal of the Wagstaff firm, served as the event’s speaker.
After breakfast was served, Fr. Christopher Devron, SJ took the stage to deliver his opening remarks.
“This Alumni Senior Breakfast for you gentlemen, the class of 2022, signals the end of your finite time as students of Fordham Prep and the start of a rebirth—of something new.” Fr. Devron said. “You're about to become part of a legacy of this institution from which alumni have traveled the globe since first graduating in 1846. You may not think that the Fordham Prep alumni network is relevant to you now as you graduate from high school, but your fellow Rams are ready and willing to help guide and shepherd you today, tomorrow, and through the rest of your education into your professional career,” he continued.
Fr. Devron then introduced William Wagstaff, III, Esq. ‘99, to speak about his experience as a civil rights attorney. As principal of his very own law firm, Wagstaff has developed and executed trial strategies from jury selection through post-trial activities. He holds an MBA from Fordham University and is licensed to practice law in New York, New Jersey, as well as several other federal districts. Wagstaff is heavily involved in his hometown of Mount Vernon and surrounding areas, serving as Special Prosecutor for Mount Vernon police disciplinary hearings, Special Counsel to City of Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard, representing non-profit organizations in civil rights suits, mentoring students through his fraternity's mentoring program, and organizing an annual coat drive at the Yonkers YMCA. He also recently co-sponsored a private screening of Black Panther for over 200 students.
William Wagstaff, III, Esq. ‘99 speaks to the senior class at the Alumni Senior Breakfast 2022.
An example of a true man for others, Wagstaff took the stage to speak about the hardships he faced while trying to become the person he is today.
“For me, this is a full-circle moment,” he began, “because (rest the dead) former Dean Bott in my freshman year was trying to expel me within the first month [at Fordham Prep]. I think I probably still have the record for the most JUG in a month,” he laughed.
Wagstaff then spoke about his rocky journey as a student at Hampton University. He described his sophomore year as the “worst semester of [his] academic career.” He ended up transferring to St. John’s University, but his troubles continued. Nonetheless, he applied to law school at Pace University soon after and got in.
While navigating college, many people told Wagstaff that a career in law might not be the right path for him. Even though he secured a glowing letter of reference for admission to the Bar, he enrolled in business school in case the naysayers were correct.
“I refused to give up because I knew that I had a gift, a passion, and a purpose,” he said.
He closed with three principles that he encouraged the seniors to adopt, the first being “awareness.”
“Wherever you are in your life, be aware of the external things that are going on in your environment. Be aware of what's expected of you in all of your relationships,” he said.
The second principle Wagstaff spoke of was “discipline.”
“Once you've had this level of awareness and you know exactly what you're supposed to do, and when you're supposed to do it, you must have the discipline to do it,” he stated.
Finally, he called on the class of 2022 to be “accountable.”
“Be a man,” he said. “Be accountable. Own it. Owning it is what is going to continue to give you the texture and give you the character that allows you to be a man in the world that the Prep, your family, and your community can be proud of.”
Ultimately, Wagstaff motivated the seniors to persevere, no matter what. “Whatever it is that you are going to do, whether academically or professionally, pour yourself into it because you don't know when God will call you,” he said.
Fr. Devron thanked Wagstaff for his speech before two students from the Senior Gift Committee took the podium to provide an update on their initiative, the Class of 2022 Scott County HS Scholarship.
We also thank those graduates who attended to help us welcome the Class of 2022 into this unique fraternity of Fordham Prep alumni:
Martin D. Avallone, Esq. ‘79
John F. Bradley ’06
John J. Davey ‘ 80
John P. Feighery ‘03
Ryan P. Fink ‘10
Thomas E. Gaffney ‘04
Robert N. Galasso ‘69
James P. Gallo ‘10
Robert J. Gomprecht ‘65
Sean M. Gregory ‘94
John W. Haag ‘84
Daniel D. Hickey ‘84
Colin J. Huvane ‘15
Maurice K. Hyacinthe, Esq. ‘77
Nicholas J. Leshi ‘88
Dario A. Martinez ‘87
Thomas E. McShane ‘10
Stephen M. Melnyk ‘82
John A. Mercorella, III ‘07
Keenan M. Mitchell ‘12
Robert S. Moschetta ‘90
Kevin P. Norton ‘71
Robert C. Seda ‘03
William O. Wagstaff, III, Esq. ‘99
George J. Zambetti, MD ‘68